Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jim Webb Quits Presidential Race

Well that didn't take too long and really wasn't that surprising. Jim Webb announced today that he is dropping his race for President -- as a Democrat. He is not willing just yet to say no to the idea of running as an independent. As we discussed earlier, Jim Webb no longer fits with the soul of the national Democratic party and hasn't for quite some time. His relative lack of charisma and complete lack of funds didn't help matters either. It remains to be seen if there are a number of independent voters who are yearning to breathe freely and vote for Jim Webb for President. I would doubt it. I don't think that Webb did himself any favors in the Democratic debate by constantly complaining about his perceived lack of speaking time or attention. But some of that rancor no doubt arose from Webb's rounding error level of polling support. Watching the debate it seemed that Webb was just as frustrated by the fact that no one seemed to know who he was as by the moderator's alleged dismissals. Webb is famously proud of his supposed touchiness. And it was on display again today.
Webb isn't completely out of the 2016 mix just yet. He said he is still considering an independent bid for president."How I remain as a voice will depend on the kind of support I'm shown," said Webb. "Though I'm not going away, I'm thinking about all my options." That would be an uphill climb for the underfunded former one-term senator. Raising money to fuel a run is only half of the problem; getting on the ballot in all 50 states would be an expensive proposition. He should not be completely discounted, however — Webb's home state is Virginia. The swing state has been especially crucial in recent presidential elections, and if he peels off even a small percentage of the vote, that could be a problem for Democrats. As for whether Webb still considers himself a Democrat, Webb paused and told a reporter, "We'll think about that."

The more interesting question to me is not whether Webb runs or not. He is irrelevant. He was never going to be President. The more interesting question is can the Democratic party continue to win nationally while continuing to lose the votes of white men or more specifically of a certain class of white men. These are the people for whom Webb tried to position himself as speaking for, albeit with decidedly mixed results. As the two major parties ready themselves for a post-Obama election it will be fascinating to see if the winning Obama coalition will hold together without him on the ballot or if the class and racial polarization in this society makes each major political party almost completely identified with and subsumed by parochial interests. So Webb's departure may be seen as utterly meaningless or as the canary in the coal mine incident. Right now I'm leaning towards utterly meaningless.
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